The Best Bubble Tea in Toronto
The best bubble tea in Toronto shows how much the landscape in the city has changed when it comes to this Taiwanese favourite. Once dominated by local chains like 168 and a slew of mom and pop stores, recent years have seen an explosion of new tea chains from Asia, each with its own unique take on this popular beverage.
Here is the best bubble tea in Toronto.
CoCo is an extremely popular name in the international bubble tea industry, and is slowly making its way into Canada with outlets in Scarborough and North York. The high quality ingredients here make this chain a real standout. Make sure you try the interestingly named Two Ladies drink.
Pretty much the first name that comes to everyone's mind these days when talking about bubble tea, Chatime has expanded aggressively since its first small outpost opened on Dundas many years ago. When in doubt, go for their roasted grass jelly milk tea, and try the fruity pop-like teas if you're in the mood for something refreshing.
Huge in Malaysia but still in its infancy in Canada, Easy Drink Easy Go is yet another popular international chain that has relatively recently been gaining a fan following in Toronto. I love their Hokkaido milk tea (with pudding) along with their mango milk tea. Their North York location is super cozy, while their Chinatown store is more spacious.
Unlike many bubble tea places that have a strong Taiwanese/Chinese orientation, Nohohon is very much inspired by the ingredients and flavours of Japan, and specializes in matcha/sencha teas. This newly opened store offers excellent varieties not found anywhere else, such as the honey momo oolong tea, as well as the unique umeboshi sencha.
This Taiwanese chain is gaining popularity due to their non-traditional bubble tea beverages. While they offer the usual milk teas, by far their claim to fame is the moustache series, which combines a salty cream with refreshing teas or juices, resulting in a drink that's both refreshing and visually comical (on your face, at least).
If you fancy a large collection of dessert to go with your bubble tea, then Cha Me Cha is right up your alley. Originally operating in Koreatown North but now relocated to Markham, this charming shop serves up excellent shaved ice desserts with unique twists on bubble tea favourites like a sugar cane oolong tea. Service can be a bit hit or miss though.
A longtime classic and the first go-to place for bubble tea enthusiasts in the early 2000s, Destiny is still going strong today, with a spacious store that has a lounge-like feel. The bubble tea here is pretty good (though typically standard fare), but you do get a lot of items on the menu that can turn your small drink into a full size meal. They also have a killer cake selection.
Presotea is an oddity in that it's at once invisible and ubiquitous. While it rarely has its own location, the chain's drinks are often offered as part of another restaurant's selections. Because of this interesting business model, the Pacific Mall location is rare for its stand-alone status. The Panda milk tea, a simple but lovely beverage that's quite pretty to look at, is my go-to here.
In recent months, Sharetea locations have begun popping around town everywhere after opening its first humble location in the culinary showpiece that is Northtown Way. The brown rice milk tea is a refreshing take on a classic, while the cocoa creama is just plain unique (and delicious), period.
Green Grotto is one of the first Canadian places that opened before everyone and their aunt jumped on the bubble tea bandwagon. As competition increased, they've reinvented their concept into something akin to a reading room, with hundreds of magazines (mostly in Chinese) available for you to read while enjoying their long-time favourites like the plum green tea.
One of the very few entries on this list that's not part of a large corporation, Jule is (perhaps rather unexpectedly) located right by the aesthetically challenged Carlton Cinema. With bright modern decor full of zigzag motifs and a collection of signature "Jule drinks" along with pretty impressive cake and dessert offerings, this cute little shop has already become a local favourite.
More than just a bubble tea shop, One Hour calls itself "a (sic) experience, a belief, a way of thinking" -- words which I still struggle to understand to this day. Fortunately, you don't need to be a Zen master to appreciate the diversity and quality of food items (such as the delicious zhajiang noodle) that accompany their lovely tea offerings. The red bean milk tea is one of my personal favourites.
Another local bubble tea chain that seems to have been around forever, Bubble Tease has several locations spread around town. The Dundas West store is one of the chain's better ones, with a bright and spacious interior where you can just hang out and enjoy one of their many daily special teas.
If small, independent bubble tea places are your thing, Yum Cha should be another name on your go-to list. Featuring probably one of the cutest logos I've seen from a non-corporate entity along with delicious teas (the Okinawa tea doesn't disappoint). It's a cozy place to spend your afternoon, as long as you can spot this hard-to-find store, perched on the second floor of a nondescript building.
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